Toronto's X Avant Festival Unveils 2019 Lineup

The fest's 14th edition features Lido Pimienta, Willi Williams, New Chance and more

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Jul 23, 2019

Toronto's acclaimed X Avant New Music Festival is set to return to the city this fall, and organizers from the Music Gallery have shared the details behind the fest's 14th edition.

Taking place from October 17 to 20, X Avant and the Music Gallery are moving "Forward" for their 2019 edition, with each festival headliner set to present new work, including three world premieres.

Organizers expanded on how the "Forward" theme relates to the festival as follows:

This festival centres on artists taking, or attempting to take, the next step in their work, career or practice. For some, "the next step" is a graduation to bigger ideas, longer tours and more money. In creative music, moving forward with art is associated with instrumental mastery and developing a personal musical vocabulary. Regardless of genre, all forward paths in music require an artist to dedicate mind, body and soul. Sometimes life challenges and structural inequities make it difficult or impossible to take the next step. There is no single way forward: twists, turns and dead ends await.

A first world premiere finds Lido Pimienta debuting her forthcoming album Miss Colombia on October 18, accompanied by winds, brass and a six-piece vocal ensemble. The follow-up to her Polaris Music Prize-winning LP La PapessaMiss Colombia is said to explore the "simultaneous closeness and distance" of Pimienta's relationship to her homeland.

A second world premiere will bring roots reggae legend Willi Williams together with electronic experimentalist New Chance. The two Torontonians will debut "a new chapter of dub" that "grows from the roots forward into the future."

Finally, the festival will also host the world premiere of Still Life, a new project from composer/percussionist Germaine Liu. Said to be her most ambitious work to date, the 45-minute composition/sounding installation finds seven instrumentalists playing found objects from around Toronto, highlighting "the exchanges and negotiations of partnership between object and human."

Holy Hum, OKAN, Sarah Hennies, Sound of the Mountain, Toshimaru Nakamura, Tetuzi Akiyama, and a brass ensemble featuring Rebecca Hennessy, Bea Labikova, Karen Ng and Heather Saumer will also perform.

X Avant XIV will also host a pair of panel discussions. On October 19, the Music Gallery's David Dacks will moderate a discussion on "The Future of Creative Music in Toronto" with journalist Michael Rancic, Korea Town Acid's Jessica Cho and more.

On October 20, "Forward Together" will see journalist Del Cowie moderate a discussion on music-making as part of a collective or large ensemble with panelists Ange Loft (Yamantaka//Sonic Titan), Keysha Fresh (the Sorority) and more.

All shows and panels will take place at the 918 Bathurst Centre for Culture, Arts, Media and Education. An early bird festival pass can be had for $50, while tickets for individual evenings are also on sale.

Further ticketing information can be found through the Music Gallery's official website.

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